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Carnegie Caulfield Criterium
Springvale Necropolis, January 7, 2003
By Mal Sawford
A fairly quiet one kicked off twilight racing for the year; with the Jayco Geelong Bay Classic starting the following day, many of the regular A and B Grade riders were resting up, and after a 40 degree day not everyone wants to race their bikes! However, a welcome cool change actually made conditions close to ideal for the 84 riders who made the effort.
Former Panaria and Navigators Pro Tom Leaper was the standout rider in the small A Grade field, although visiting New Zealand star Lee Vertongen and Gilbert Gutowski (Broncos) ensured the local riders wouldn’t have to control Leaper on their own. Small elite fields can sometimes produce fairly slow and tactical races, so from the spectators point of view, it was great to see the pace high from the start, with all riders contributing to the pace.
After 50 minutes working with the bunch, Leaper made his move, opening a 50 metre advantage with Gutowski. Next time past the finish Vertongen had crossed the gap and Gutowski was back in the bunch, and with three laps to go, the leading pair were 25 seconds clear and extending their advantage.
Leaper shook off the Kiwi, who rode this year’s Sun Tour, on the final lap to take the win by 17 seconds, with a tight sprint for third going to the newly promoted Michael Bailey over Gutowski and workhorse Justin Davis (O’Mara) , much to the disappointment of the enthusiastic Broncos cheer squad!
20 minutes into the B Grade race, a strong trio had gone clear; Bruce Will, Russell Newnham and Grant "The Bricky" Matthews. This combination would normally be unstoppable, but in a good effort from the bunch they were reeled in over the next 15 minutes.
The winning move came just before the call of three to go, with Newnham again going clear with Andrew Smith (ACR). Doctor Russell waited until the final 100 meters to launch his sprint, to win convincingly, while The Bricky soled in for third 35 seconds later. New club member and track specialist David Coultas (SBR) lead the remanants of the bunch home.
C Grade had the evenings largest field, and saw the most attacking race. Just about every time past the crowd on the hill someone put in an attack, but most were contained by the next time past the line. An attack from Ben Noyes with 10 minutes remaining was countered by Paul Kelly, only for Paul Groves to jump the gap on the following lap.
Riding smoothly, Groves rode away from Kelly to have a 10 second advantage at two to go, and maintained this gap to the bell. Entering the finish straight for the final lap Ben Schofield had come up to Groves’ back wheel but could not come round, leaving Groves to take the win and promotion to B Grade. Daniel Young and Danny Wetherley rounded out the podium.
After a race run at good pace, D Grade came down to a bunch sprint fought out by the stars of the future. Damien Drapac in his first ride at the Necropolis just held off Michael Downing (Le Tour), with Pete Johnstone (O’Mara) third. Tess Downing (Le Tour) sprinted into 4th overall as well as taking out the Women’s division from Nikki Matthews.
Racing continues every Tuesday night on the circuit, with the Police Road gate (Melways Map 80 G6) opens at 6pm for race starts for all grades at 6.30. All holders of current Cycling Australia licenses are welcome (don't forget to bring your license or receipt!) and non-members can have a go by taking out a three-race license for $39, deductible from your full membership if you decide to continue racing. Our thanks go to the Trustees of the Necropolis for making the fabulous facility available to Melbourne’s racing community.
Images by Mal Sawford
A Grade - 1 hour+ 3 laps 1 Tom Leaper (Blackburn CC) 2 Lee Vertongen (NZ) 2 Michael Bailey (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Gilbert Gutowski (Broncos CC) 5 Justin Davis (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 12 starters B Grade - 1 hour + 3 laps 1 Russell Newnham (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Andrew Smith (Blackburn CC) 3 Grant Matthews (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 David Coultas (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 14 Starters C Grade - 50 mins + 3 laps 1 Paul Groves (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Ben Schofield (Blackburn CC) 3 Daniel Young (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 4 Danny Wetherley (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 24 starters D Grade - 45 mins + 3 laps 1 Damien Drapac (Brunswick CC) 2 Michael Downing (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Peter Johnstone (Chelsea & Peninsula CC) 4 Tess Downing (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 21 starters Women 1 Tess Downing (Carnegie Caulfield CC 2 Nikki Matthews (Carnegie Caulfield CC) E Grade - 40 mins + 3 laps 1 Ben Day (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 2 Andrew Knowles (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 3 Brett McNally (Carnegie Caulfield CC) 13 starters